Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 16:
The Odisha Private Bus Owners’ Association on Friday gave the state government 20 days to fulfil its 15-point charter of demands or face an indefinite stir from June 5.
A worried government responded to the strike threat with an invitation to the Association for talks.
A decision on a mechanism for automatic hike and cut in bus fares whenever there is a hike or cut in fuel prices, the major demand of the Association, would be taken soon, Commerce and Transport minister Ramesh Chandra Majhi said after the meeting.
On its part, the Association reiterated its ultimatum to launch an indefinite strike if steps are not taken by the government for fulfillment of their demands before this date.
The Association, in an emergency general body meeting yesterday evening, took strong exception to the gross apathy of the state government towards its demands.
Briefing newsmen after the meeting, president of the Association Prakash Mishra and spokesperson Debasis Nayak said while the state government promptly asks the Association to slash bus fares in the event of a fall in the diesel prices, it does not show the same urgency in raising fares when fuel prices are increased.
“The Association, since April, 2013, has been demanding an automatic mechanism for fixation of bus fare in proportion to the rise and fall in the price of diesel. The state government should take immediate steps in this regard,” they said.
General secretary of the Association, Debendra Kumar Sahu said the Association has been demanding infrastructure development of bus stands in the state.
“There are no facilities for the security and safety of passengers in any bus stand in the state. Most of them don’t have toilets either. Keeping the ensuing Nabakelabara in view, the state government should immediately take up infrastructure development of these bus stands on a priority,” he said.
Referring to the decision of the state government to cancel the license of drivers in case of an accident, Sahu said since the state government has given the license to the drivers, let it bring out a list of drivers which it wants to retain so that the Association will employ these drivers.
Criticising the decision of the state government to cancel the route permits of bus owners in case of an accident, he said this is grossly illegal. “Why should the government cancel the route permit of the bus owners? Do the owners driver the buses?” he asked.
The other demands of the Association are publication of a list mentioning the details of the drivers and conductors by the Transport department; permission to the bus owners to sell their vehicle and hand over the route permit to the new owners; no cancellation of route permit and fitness certificate of the bus in case of an accident; management and maintenance cost of CCTV installed in buses; limiting the movement of buses plying under JNNURM scheme inside the city limits; no collection of toll from any bus plying on National Highways until a notification to this effect is issued by the government; fixation of a timetable prior to giving new route permit to a bus and financial assistance to the buses plying in KBK districts, ghat areas and Maoist-affected districts with relaxation in the timing and route permit of these buses.
“The Association will submit its 15-point charter of demands to the Commerce and Transport minister and the secretary of the department very soon with a request to fulfil these demands by June 4 failing which the Association would resort to indefinite strike from June 5 in the state in which 15,200 buses will stay off the roads,” Sahu warned.
“The department will take necessary steps after assessing the demands of the Association,” Commerce and Transport minister Ramesh Majhi said before th meeting with office bearers of the Association.